Collecting and Protecting Your Important Documents: 12 Months to Financial Fitness

Financial Advice


2 min. read

By: FCU Team

Financial fitness doesn’t stop at budgets and credit scores! Keeping track of sensitive documents, like social security cards, receipts and vehicle registrations, can help you in your financial endeavors, as well as give you peace of mind.

Which Documents Should I Collect?

Adult life can generate a lot of important documents. If your file cabinets aren’t exactly organized, we can’t blame you! Still, knowing where your most important documents are, and having them sorted in easy to find ways, is a lifesaver. It can be difficult to determine what’s important, as well as when you should get rid of something, so we have put together a comprehensive list below:

  • Social security cards – Keep indefinitely
  • Medical records – Keep indefinitely
  • Military records – Keep indefinitely
  • Burial instructions – Keep indefinitely
  • Birth certificates – Keep indefinitely
  • Adoption papers – Keep indefinitely
  • Marriage licenses – Keep indefinitely
  • Divorce or separation papers – Keep indefinitely
  • Passports – Keep indefinitely
  • Tax returns – 7 years
  • Banking statements – 7 years
  • W-2s and 1099 forms – 7 years
  • Receipts for tax credits – 7 years
  • Disability or unemployment records – 4 years
  • Retirement/pension plan records – 1 year
  • Pay stubs – 1 year
  • Insurance policies – While active
  • Wills, powers of attorney or living well – While current

A majority of these will be documents should be relevant to you. While it may seem like a lot of work, it’s truly worthwhile in the end. Looking for a summer project? This is a great one to start, especially if you want to escape the heat for a few hours.

Organizing and Protecting Your Documents

Once you’ve collected all your documents, it’s time to organize and store them. There are many ways to go, but a file cabinet or box is apt to the do the trick. Just know they would be susceptible to flooding or fires, but the likelihood of these happening is small. In the event of a hurricane or another natural disaster, be sure to factor protecting these documents further into your prep time.

If you want safety and don’t mind your documents being a bit less out of reach, you can always opt for a safety deposit box at a financial institution. We’d recommend that option for some of the more sensitive documents. If you choose this option, be sure to add trusted individuals to the list of folks that can access the box, like a family member, in the event you can’t make the trip out to get them.

What to Do With Old Documents

Shred them! Not only is it a good safety measure, it’s also fun! Outdated documents may still contain sensitive, personal information that can be used against you should it fall into the wrong hands. Better safe than sorry!

If You Need Extra Assistance

If you have any questions, we at Florida Credit Union deal with important documents all the time. Whether you need something notarized or are confused about whether a document is relevant or not, we encourage you to let us know!